Tisch Drama’s Alisa Zhulina publishes “Theater of Capital”

Tuesday, Jan 30, 2024

Theater of Capital: Modern Drama and Economic Life

Assistant Arts Professor, Alisa Zhulina celebrates the release of "Theater of Capital: Modern Drama and Economic Life"

In January, Tisch Drama announced the publication of Assistant Arts Professor Alisa Zhulina’s new book, “Theater of Capital: Modern Drama and Economic Life” (Northwestern University Press.) The title explores canonical works of modern drama in relation to the economic ideas of their era.

Emerging amid the turbulent rise of market finance and wider socioeconomic changes, modern drama enacted vital critiques of art and life under capitalism. Alisa Zhulina shows how fin-de-siècle playwrights such as Henrik Ibsen, August Strindberg, Anton Chekhov, George Bernard Shaw, and Gerhart Hauptmann interrogated the meaning of this newly coined economic concept. Acutely aware of their complicity in the system they sought to challenge, these playwrights staged economic questions as moral and political concerns, using their plays to explore the theories of Adam Smith, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, Max Weber, and others within the boundaries of bourgeois theater.

Theater of Capital: Modern Drama and Economic Life reveals the prescient and unsettling visions of life in a new financial and societal reality in now-canonical plays such as A Doll’s House, Miss Julie, and The Cherry Orchard, as well as in lesser-known and long-overlooked works. This wide-ranging study prompts us to reevaluate modern drama and its legacy for the urgent economic and political questions that haunt our present moment.

“Tisch Drama is very proud to have Alisa Zhulina on faculty, and fortunate for the ways she brings this research into our classrooms,” said department Chair Tomi Tsunoda. “I'm excited to see this work in the world, and for its potential impact on how we understand both these historic works and our contemporary togetherness outside of the theater.”